Community Action Grant Application

Program Purpose

AAUW’s Community Action Grants provide funds that address issues related to the needs of women and girls or that provide information to educate and benefit the public on those issues.

AAUW encourages proposals for projects that

  • Use innovative approaches to address local community needs or build links among community partners
  • Build partnerships between schools and community organizations

Special consideration is given to

  • Projects directed by or collaborating with AAUW branches and states
  • Projects focused on K–14 (including two-year colleges) women and girls’ achievement in math, science, and/or technology
  • Projects that include community partners (Community partners might include local schools or school districts, businesses, and other community-based organizations.)

Applications for AAUW Community Action Grants are open August 1–December 1

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Award Amounts

One-Year Grant: $2,000–$7,000 over One Year
One-year grants provide funding for community-based projects. Topic areas are unrestricted but should include a clearly defined activity that advances equity for women and girls.

Two-Year Grant: $5,000–$10,000 over Two Years
Two-year grants provide start-up funds for new projects that address the particular needs of the community and develop girls’ sense of efficacy through leadership, advocacy, or training opportunities. Funds support planning activities, coalition building, implementation, and evaluation. The application is for one grant that covers a two-year period. AAUW expects that the project may evolve and change somewhat over the course of the grant period; however, second-year funding is contingent upon the successful completion of the first year of the grant. Two-year grants are not for existing projects.


December 1, 2019
Deadline for online submission of application and supporting documents

April 15, 2020
Notification of decisions emailed to applicants. AAUW is not able to honor requests for earlier notification.

July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021
One-year grant period

July 1, 2020–June 30, 2022
Two-year grant period

When a deadline or notification date falls on a weekend, the date will be observed on the following business day.


  • Applicants must be individuals, AAUW branches, AAUW state organizations, or local community-based nonprofit organizations (including universities).
  • Project directors must be the applicant and must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • The proposed activity must take place within the United States or its territories.
  • Nonprofit organizations and universities must be based in the United States or its territories.
  • Organizations (including universities) must have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. AAUW branch and state applicants must have 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.
  • The proposed activity must have direct community or public impact.
  • Proposals from AAUW branches or states must be approved and signed by the branch or state president.
  • Proposals from local community-based nonprofit organizations must be approved and signed by the organization’s executive director.
  • Community Action Grants are not available for the development of written work for academic credit or for research that will be used for a degree thesis or dissertation.
  • Previous Community Action Grant awardees must wait three application cycles before applying for another grant.
  • Members of the AAUW Board of Directors, committees, panels, task forces, and staff, including current interns, are not eligible to apply for AAUW’s fellowships and grants. A person holding a current award is eligible for election or appointment to boards, committees, panels, and task forces.

Criteria for Selection and Application Review

The Research and Projects Community Action Grants Panel meets once a year to review applications for funding. Awards are based on the selection criteria outlined here. The panel’s recommendations are subject to final approval by the AAUW Board of Directors. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis according to funds available in a given fiscal year. To ensure a fair and objective review process, AAUW does not comment on the deliberations of the awards panels. Thus AAUW is unable to provide written or oral evaluations of applicants. No provisions exist for reconsideration of grant proposals after the board has acted on the panel’s recommendations.

The following criteria apply to the selection of Community Action Grants:

  • Relevance of the proposed project to the mission of AAUW
  • Strength of the project rationale — the project meets a demonstrable, documented local need
  • Clarity and creativity of the project design — the project has (1) clear and specific outcomes and (2) is original and/or innovative in its approach to achieving those outcomes
  • Sustainability/impact of the project — the project (1) reaches underserved audiences, (2) builds connections with diverse individuals and organizations, (3) has potential for AAUW branch or state involvement/visibility, (4) has potential for long-term impact, and (5) has potential for long-term sustainability beyond the grant period
  • Feasibility of the project — (1) proposed activities will logically lead to desired outcomes/achievement of goals, (2) the project time frame is realistic, (3) the budget is adequate and expenses are justified in the budget narrative, (4) there is adequate support from collaborative organizations and community partners, (5) the project director is qualified to direct the project, and if an AAUW branch, AAUW state, or nonprofit applicant, the organization has the capacity to carry out the project
  • Strength of the evaluation plan — (1) specific evaluation methods are proposed to measure short-term, medium-term, and long-term results, (2) proposed evaluation methods are logical measures of projected outcomes, and (3) resources are adequate to support the proposed methods
  • Strength of the dissemination plan — (1) specific dissemination methods are identified, (2) a realistic plan is provided to implement the dissemination, and (3) resources are adequate to support proposed dissemination
  • Overall quality of the proposal — the proposal is clear and convincing
  • Potential for and/or commitment of additional funds and involvement from community organizations and/or businesses


Funds are available for, but not limited to, project-related expense categories, including

  • Postage, mailing, shipping
  • Photocopying, duplicating
  • Office supplies
  • Audiovisual materials
  • Project-related telephone costs
  • Professional fees or honoraria for speakers or special consultants
  • Equipment purchases
  • Meals, food, beverages, or lodging for camps or related activities
  • Temporary, hourly clerical help
  • Lease of facilities (does not include permanent office space)
  • Advertising, publicity, graphic design
  • Transportation (should be no more than one-third of grant request; $.545 per mile for auto expenses)

Funds are not available for the following:

  • Salaries or stipends for project directors or permanent positions
  • Tuition
  • Higher education scholarships for students and participants
  • Building funds, construction, or renovations
  • Travel expenses for activities not within the scope of the project
  • Overhead or general operating expenses for any organization or nonprofit organization
  • Personal expenses, shelter, or life, medical, and health insurance
  • Previous expenditures, deficits, or loans
  • Creating or providing grants to other organizations
  • Copyright or attorney fees
  • Fundraising activities

AAUW regards the acceptance of a grant as a contract requiring fulfillment of the following terms:

  1. All grant recipients must sign a contract accepting the award. Retain these instructions, as they will become part of the grant contract if the applicant is awarded a grant.
  1. Grant awards are distributed in two equal payments, the first at the beginning of the grant period and the second at the midpoint.
  1. The Community Action Grant project director must be in an active leadership role, controlling programmatic, fiscal, and editorial responsibility for the project.
  1. The project director cannot be paid with Community Action Grant funds for work on the project and the project director’s employer cannot be reimbursed.
  1. Projects may be awarded only once. Former Community Action Grantees may propose new activities for future grants after waiting three application cycles but cannot reapply for the same project for which they received funding in the past.
  1. If eligible, an applicant may apply to more than one AAUW grant or fellowship program simultaneously. If awarded in more than one program, the applicant may accept only one award.
  1. AAUW is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity founded for educational purposes. Thus all proposed Community Action Grant activities must correspond to that mission. Specific questions regarding income tax matters should be addressed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or to the applicant’s personal tax adviser.
  1. Grant projects may not seek to influence new or pending legislation or favor a particular political candidate or party.
  1. Grant projects must be nonsectarian and may not seek to promote a particular religion or denomination.

Required Components*

Start by clicking on the link to access the application and create an account through our vendor site. Complete all required components in the following tabs.

  1. Eligibility
    • Applicants must pass the eligibility quiz to be reviewed by the selection panel.
  1. Project Director
  1. Project
  1. Uploads
    • Organizational Summary Form and Statement of Commitment
      These documents are required for

      • All applicants applying as nonprofit organizations (including universities) and all AAUW branches
      • All organizations that will act as collaborative partners on this project. The Organizational Summary form will be available in the application. The statement must include two paragraphs that outline the collaborating organization’s commitment to the project in terms of time, personnel, facilities, monetary support, etc. Statements must be written on organizational letterhead.
    • Proof of Nonprofit Status
      Nonprofit applicants (including universities) must submit proof of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status (i.e., an IRS determination letter). AAUW branch or state organizations applying for funds must be 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) and must submit proof of status.
  1. Demographics
  1. Narratives
    • Abstract
      Briefly describe the proposed project. Identify the target audience, goal of the project, anticipated outcomes, and relevance of the project to AAUW’s mission. (600-character limit)
    • Project rationale (need statement)
      Provide evidence of need for the project. Describe the community served by the project, the problem being addressed, and the reason for initiating the project. Emphasis should be on community needs, not a general research need. (1,200-character limit)
    • Project description (anticipated outcomes)
      Identify the goal and anticipated outcomes of the project. The outcomes should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Describe the methods you plan to use to achieve these outcomes. Explain how the proposed project will meet the needs of the target audience in an original and/or innovative way. (2,000-character limit)
    • Implementation plan
      Outline the project time line and list planned activities or events according to the time line. Explain how the implementation plan will lead to desired outcomes. Explain how you plan to recruit participants (if applicable) and share information about the project with your community. (2,000-character limit)
    • AAUW involvement and collaborations
      Based on the time line above, describe the AAUW coalition and collaborators that will support the implementation plan. Explain why the coalition is appropriate for the project and if organizations other than AAUW will be involved (Organizational Summary and Commitment forms from collaborators must be sent as supporting documents). (1,200-character limit)
    • Evaluation plan
      Explain how you plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the project. Outline the specific strategies you have used and plan to use to determine if you have achieved the anticipated outcomes outlined in your proposal. Explain why the evaluation method you plan to use is appropriate for the project. (2,000-character limit)
    • Dissemination plan
      Describe how you plan to disseminate information about the results and impact of the project. Provide a detailed plan for how and when the dissemination will occur. (2,000-character limit)
    • Impact/outreach
      Describe the anticipated long-term impact of the project. Explain how the project will reach underserved audiences and build connections with diverse individuals and organizations. Explain why the project has potential for sustainability after the grant period ends. (2,000-character limit)
    • Qualifications of the project director and staff
      Identify the person responsible for the project and other relevant leadership staff. Briefly outline the experience, education, and skills that qualify them to direct the project. In addition, list other staff and individuals who will work on the project. Describe their roles and qualifications. (2,000-character limit)
    • Organizational capacity
      Briefly describe the branch, organization, or individual’s capacity to carry out the project. What other projects have they planned and implemented that have prepared them to carry out this project? For AAUW branch or state projects, how will the project promote AAUW branch/state growth? (2,000-character limit)
  1. Project Budget
    An itemized budget for the project must be included. Project budgets should reflect the costs that will be incurred during the grant period.

    • Budget narrative
      Applicants must justify and explain each listed expense and include in-kind support and other sources of funding. Be sure to describe the relationship of the expense to the desired outcome of the project. Strong budget proposals include in-kind contributions and funds from other sources.

Tips for Proposal Preparation

  1. Read and follow all guidelines.
    Many proposals are disqualified each year because applicants omit a key step in the guidelines or ignore instructions. If you are unsure whether you qualify to apply, email for assistance.
  1. Proofread all work thoroughly.
    Proposals that are unclear or contain numerous mistakes distract the reviewer from focusing on the content and reflect poorly on your ability to produce a high-quality product. Check to be sure that your sentences are complete, clear, and grammatically correct.
  1. Have someone else read the completed proposal.
    An objective reader can often identify areas that need more explanation and may find errors that you have overlooked.
  1. Be concise.
    Reviewers must read dozens of proposals. Proposals that are clear and concise are more compelling.


Applications for AAUW Community Action Grants are open August 1–December 1

Apply Now